Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I had to go to the police station!

What a day! 

It started out great. I went  to Hakata (the big city near me) to meet my friend Phee (hi Phee!). We met at starbucks. We talked and drank coffee, did a bit of shopping followed by more talking and more coffee. I took the train home and when I got to my station, I got in a taxi and went home. I paid the taxi and went upstairs to my apartment.

My hubby wanted to order pizza and I said no problem. He phoned the pizza place and ordered. I told him to get the money from my wallet. He went to my bag and looked around and asked me where my wallet was. I said in my bag or on the table in the hall. No. It wasn't there.

We searched everywhere in the apartment and I went outside to the parking lot to look. We couldn't find it. We called the taxi company and not only did they search the taxi I took but the taxi driver drove to our apartment so we could check it ourselves. No wallet.

I was very confused. I know I had it in the taxi so between the taxi in the parking lot of our apartment  building and our apartment itself, I lost my wallet.

My husband suggested that I go and check again in the parking lot. It was kind of pointless as our apartment building is small (6 apartments in the building) so the parking lot is very small and my wallet is big and orange-hard to miss. But I went. As I was going to go down the stairs I stopped because our nosy crazy lady neighbour was in her car and about to pull out. But suddenly I decided to go down the stairs and look around. She stopped backing out and asked me what I was doing. I told her about my wallet and she smiled and told me that the lady in 201 found it and asked her what she should do with it. Now...this is where culture differences come into play.

In case you didn't know this about Japan, your bicycle and umbrella have a good chance of being stolen but your wallet-nope. In this country, wallets, money found on the street-even the equivalent of a $10 bill- etc will be turned into the nearest police "box" ( mini mini police stations) with everything intact.

So, the lady in 201 finds a wallet in the small parking lot of her building. Instead of opening it and looking for ID, she gets in her car, drives to the police box and fills out paper work. The crazy lady  (I call her crazy because when she drinks she gets rude and fights with people-called my husband bad names once and threatened my assistant!) told me not to worry that it will show up at one of the many police boxes. She just didn't know which one the lady in 201 went to.

So...I go upstairs and tell my husband this. He phones a few of the police boxes and no one answers. So he phoned the main station, told them what happened. They said they would get back to us if they found it but they said maybe we could ask the lady in 201 where she took it. So....we went to 201 and the family was home but when we knocked, it got quiet and they ignored us. My husband, said through the door who we were and mentioned my wallet but no response. So we had to wait for the police to find it.

About an hour later the police called and told us where it was and suggested we go right away to pick it up. We called a taxi (thankfully my hubby had money) and  explained to the taxi driver, after he expressed surprise, why we wanted to go to the police box. What is funny is that when I mentioned I thought it was strange that the lady didn't open the wallet to see whose it was the driver said he wouldn't have opened it. So...this is a Japanese thing... I think. They are so worried about being accused of taking money from the wallet and not wanting to get involved that they would rather just take it to the police station.

So, we got to the police station and there was my wallet. The police told me that they had opened it and wrote down the contents and that if things weren't in the right place it was their doing and not the person who had turned it in (again, fear of being accused). My husband had to fill out some paper work and I had to sign it. And before we could leave we got a little bit of a lecture...that isn't quite the right word but the older police officer said (as if we weren't going to) we should thank the person who turned it in. And by "thank" it means give a present in Japanese. We explained that we were going to go and buy them something to say thanks. Apparently that was the right thing to say because he smiled at us.

I'm exhausted and feel like I have been run over by something big. I'm thrilled that I got my wallet back. But, am I the only one who would have opened the wallet to see whose it was? Well...if I could read Japanese that is! Still, if I was in Canada and I found a wallet in my apartment building's parking lot, I would have opened it to find an address and if it was in my building I would have returned it. If it wasn't in my building I would have figured out a way to return it.

Anyway, I have to get up in the morning to go to the mall to buy some senbei (Japanese rice crackers that will be in a beautiful box and gift wrapped) for the lady in 201 and the crazy neighbour lady (since she put my mind at ease by telling me about the lady in 201). 

Any thoughts on this? What would you do if you found a wallet in your building's  parking lot?

Edited to add: in case I sound otherwise-I'm thrilled to have it back and ultimately it wasn't much trouble to get it back. I guess it was just surprising to me.


Belle said...

glad you've found your wallet! yes it may be a cultural thing, but i think it's somehow good rather than not finding your wallet at all.

but yeah, if i might found a wallet, i might have opened it and looked for an ID or contact no. :) that's our thing, i guess :)

FromJapanWithLove said...


I'm thrilled I got it back of course! :) Just surprised by it all. must be our thing. My husband said he wouldn't open a wallet if he found it....

Jennifer Rose said...

I'd probably open the wallet up to see if there was ID in it, and then go to the persons house if it wasn't too far away. if not, i would take it to the cops, its not worth getting in trouble for

kathrynoh said...

It must be such a relief to get your wallet back. It's not even the money but all the cards you'd have to get replaced.

As for the risk of having your wallet stolen in Japan, I had money stolen from me and the police told me that these sort of crimes have been increasing a lot lately. Maybe there is a good chance of getting your wallet back if a regular person finds it but there are pickpockets and other criminals around.

Also, I thought if you got money returned, the standard thank you was 10% in cash. If it is a small amount then a present would be nicer though. I mean who wants 10% of say 1000 yen :)

As for not looking in the wallet, maybe that's out of respect for your privacy in case you have something embarassing in there - like nude pics of yourself or an AKB48 fan club membership :)

FromJapanWithLove said...

I agree that I wasn't as worried about the money but all the other stuff!

I'm sure those kind of crimes are students tell me all the time that Japan is getting more dangerous etc.

As for the 10% rule-I had thought about it but I was told that a small gift was the right thing to do. I wonder if it kind of depends on where you live. I live in the "inaka" countryside and gift giving is huge in terms of saying "thanks" or "sorry" or "I went to the big city so here is your souvenir" etc.

And lol about the nude pics or AKB48!!

Japan Australia said...

Glad it turned out good in the end for you. It is very Japanese for them not to look in your wallet out of respect for your privacy.

Japan Australia

Anonymous said...

I to would have opened it and seen whos it was and tried to return it. I have been to Japan many times and love it there so. Not in the summer I cant take the heat. I have been to Tokyo not sure where you are from there. The people and customs there are quite different. Very much on giving thank you gifts and things that is for sure. Glad you got it back anyway.

Grace said...

Glad you got your wallet back. What an ordeal, but such a great gesture when returning something....

illahee said...

sorry to comment on an old post, but i have a story!

a few years ago i left my wallet on top of my car (on the roof) while getting gas, and forgot it was there and drove off! it fell on the ground but i didn't remember it until the next time i needed it. i went back to the gas station but it wasn't there. i think i had 20,000 yen in it, so i was pretty bummed.

it turned out, though, that a truck driver found it and turned it in to the local police station. they called my husband (!) who then called me--i hadn't told him yet, because he tends to freak out--so i went to the police station to claim it. they were nice, and told me that the man who found it didn't want a 'reward', but told me (rather sternly, i may add) that i needed to call him and thank him personally, and gave me his cell phone number!! i speak japanese well enough, but it's rather difficult over the phone! i did it, though, and was very happy to have my wallet back!

Chrissie Marshall said...

I can't help after reading this about an incident when I was 14 years old (while back now) I found a wallet in the park walking home from school and I opened it and although I did not know the name I knew the street. The wallet was full of cash and I have to admit to a moment of how many things I could bye with all that money. I resisted and went to the house and a eldery man opened the door a crack and gave me the creeps. I asked him if he had misplace hos wallet. He slammed the door and left me standing there for several minutes and then opened the door and said "Give me my wallet now" and if there is a penny missing I will have the police onto you" and promptly slammed the door.
I felt like I had done something wrong and although I was not expecting a reward, I think a thank you would have gone a long way.
What a day you had and hope your neighbour enjoyed and appreciated your gesture. Sorry this was so long.


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